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24 April, 2005

Shelter of shadows

A Khaleej Times article about a women's shelter in Dubai represents important social change taking place in the UAE and wider region: greater openness, particularly on the subject of domestic violence.

The shelter's manager, Sharla Musabih, admits how times have changed: "We can now talk about many issues openly which was not possible earlier."

As an example, last year Saudi TV presenter Rania Al-Baz, nearly beaten to death by her husband, showed her injuries to the media, possibly the first time that domestic violence has ever been publicly shown in Saudi.

The tragedies revealed by the Dubai shelter are harrowing: from battered and bruised wives to abandoned children and runaway maids, often also the victims of horrific ill-treatment. Women caught in sex trafficking are also given help. According to Sharla:

"It’s a mafia out there. Women from Far Eastern Europe are brought to the country with promises of good jobs in hotels, boutiques and beauty salons. When they board the aircraft, they are given passports that change their nationality, and when they are deported, they land in the hands of the mafia again," she said.

"Such women are looked down upon in our society, but does anyone realise that they are physically, mentally and emotionally scarred for life?"


NB: Comments reenabled.

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34 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

16 November, 2005 17:06  
Blogger samuraisam said...

because woman beaters occasionaly have high places in the govt.

If the UAE doesnt protect people who dont get paid by construction panels, what makes you think they're going to spare any attention to people who beat up women?

your suggestion of going through the legal system is equally as entertaining as the rest of your ignorant thought process.

16 November, 2005 17:16  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

16 November, 2005 17:22  
Blogger samuraisam said...

a woman kicking out her wife beating husband sounds like a very interesting proposition.

Unfortunately for you, i am talking about something i am aware of, unlike you, my views are not limited to single ideas, i try to look outside the box/ think outside the box, perhaps you should do the same and stop letting your soliloquy (which is quite evidently exactly that), take over your simple minded brain.

16 November, 2005 17:51  
Blogger CG said...

I am absolutely mortified to read these comments. Sharla is a very close friend of mine. Besides you getting her name wrong (and I shall not correct it) I have seen her work tirelessly to help women and children who are lost in this world. I believe the people posting here are the bitter husbands who did not manage to get away with their abuse towards women.
I have contributed a lot to the shelter and shall continue to do so.
Sharla is an angel in my eyes, and I have seen her at work, and the long hours and huge amount of money she herself has poured into this shelter. She has strived for years to be recognised and is finally accepted by the human rights section of Dubai Police.
May Allah bless her and her family.

16 November, 2005 18:55  
Blogger secretdubai said...

CG - thank you so much for posting here. My impression is that it is just one person posting in criticism of Sharla.

If you believe that the comments will really damage her, I will delete them.

For my part, I have always considered the shelter vital, a sign of progress, and a sign of humanity.

16 November, 2005 19:01  
Blogger CG said...

SD, It has brought tears to my eyes just reading such detrental things written about this woman. You email me and I will take you to meet her. You too will be heartbroken. To add to this her husband allows her to give all of her spare time to these people...her house is always flooded with people, with a constant flow of food and refreshments flowing. Never mind her going to Pakistan to search for the families of the camel 'boys' so she could repatriate them. Then there is the issue of the abandoned babies that she cares for....OMG...this is awful to say such things about her.

16 November, 2005 19:06  
Blogger secretdubai said...

For anyone confused by the deletions, there were at least half a dozen screeds of hate against the woman who runs the shelter made by some bizarre Anonymous commenter who frankly makes the Taliban appear enlightened.

It isn't even possible to summarise his arguments against the shelter without repeating various libels he made, which has been deleted for obvious legal reasons, as well as humane ones. On other entries this person also repeatedly posted Sharla's personal information and contact details, urging people to call and essentially harrass her. All those comments have also been deleted.

Suffice it to say that debate is always welcome here, but not disturbingly viciously, unsupported, defamatory attacks on a person.

22 November, 2005 02:27  
Blogger The Patriot said...

I was very moved to see Sharla and her loving family on the television programme Dubai Dreams last night. I am an Englishman who has visited Dubai on many occasions and will be moving out full time early next year. I think that Dubai is a wonderful place with a very bright future ahead of it. However, as has been seen in many other cities around the world, along with prosperity comes prostitution, homelessness, drug abuse and all manner of human exploitation. It never ceases to amaze me how low some people will go in order to appear to be successful in society. I sincerely hope that the Authorities in Dubai take the necessary precautions in the early stages in order to reduce human suffering and prevent Dubai failing to reach its full potential. I wish Sharla and others like her every success in her goals, and if i am able to help in anyway when i am resident in Dubai, it shall be my pleasure.

22 November, 2005 13:12  
Blogger gr8gatsby said...

i watched a BBC programme last night. it was part of the "Dubai Dreams" series. last night it was about Sharla. I am truly amazed by this lady's unswerving commitment to the needy. i wish her every success. i wish it were possible to contact her directly, but i cannot find her details. i live in london.

22 November, 2005 15:16  
Blogger secretdubai said...

I don't personally have contact details for Sharla and the shelter, however CG knows her personally, and may be able to pass on a message to her on your behalf.

22 November, 2005 16:16  
Blogger secretdubai said...

Anonymous: give it up. Every time you post here I get an immediate notification, so I just go and auto-delete.

And a tip: no one but a crazy misguided mullah-man such as yourself is going to pay any attention to your repeated, illiterant, unfounded rants against this woman and her hostel.

International readers take one look and think: "What an awful, illiterate, sexist, stupid Arab man! Thank god Arab women have someone like Sharla helping them out."

So really, you're doing her a favour by your bizarre little campaign. But I'm still going to delete everything you write, because I'm not having your libellous allegations on my blog, and because I CAN!

Does it feel extra annoying for you, knowing yet another mere woman has so much more power than you? Because I do.

22 November, 2005 19:16  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am from The Buckinghamshire College Internet Usage Bureau, please stop spamming anonymous or we will cut off your account.

22 November, 2005 19:55  
Blogger Abi said...

I saw the TV programme last night on Dubai Dreams and found Sharla to be an inspiration. How lucky Dubai is to have her. I currently work with the homeless in England but am moving over to Oman in January with my husband. I would love to get in touch with Sharla to discuss any need for similar work in Oman, though I realise this is less likely than the need in Dubai. I am unable to find any contact details for Sharla but if anyone can help, Id appreciate it.

23 November, 2005 00:00  
Blogger Nicole said...

Good Morning, from a Frosty cold Morning in Oxford-UK. I have recently returned back from Dubai, working for a certain Emiraty Company as a personal shopper.

Something awful happened out there to me physically,and I could not get any HELP at all, the company did not want to help, and on hearing the news fired me.

They threatened to throw me in jail if I told anyone, what the company director did to me... ( you can imagine the rest..)

It would have been a great help to have found out that someone like SHARLA existed.

Fortunately a friend helped and I was able to go back home to the UK.

It would have been a dream for me, to be able to help Sharla, because this is one of my biggest passions in life.

The program; "Dubai Dreams" not only inspired me, but awoke a certain Spiritual LOVE for Humanity within anyone who watched it, this truly is a special woman, who WILL change the Lives for future generations to come, she will be a MARK down in HISTORY, she already is..

I would like more information about what Sharla is doing, If she needs any help, I will stand right next to her.... *SHARLA has been sent to DUBAI for a reason....and that is to protect humanity within the ARAB WORLD.*
Light sent,
Nicole.

23 November, 2005 12:50  
Blogger Nicole said...

Good Morning, from a Frosty cold Morning in Oxford-UK. I have recently returned back from Dubai, working for a certain Emiraty Company as a personal shopper.

Something awful happened out there to me physically,and I could not get any HELP at all, the company did not want to help, and on hearing the news fired me.

They threatened to throw me in jail if I told anyone, what the company director did to me... ( you can imagine the rest..)

It would have been a great help to have found out that someone like SHARLA existed.

Fortunately a friend helped and I was able to go back home to the UK.

It would have been a dream for me, to be able to help Sharla, because this is one of my biggest passions in life.

The program; "Dubai Dreams" not only inspired me, but awoke a certain Spiritual LOVE for Humanity within anyone who watched it, this truly is a special woman, who WILL change the Lives for future generations to come, she will be a MARK down in HISTORY, she already is..

I would like more information about what Sharla is doing, If she needs any help, I will stand right next to her.... *SHARLA has been sent to DUBAI for a reason....and that is to protect humanity within the ARAB WORLD.*
Light sent,

23 November, 2005 12:51  
Blogger CG said...

I have received a lot of emails from people needing to contact Sharla. I shall reply to you all shortly, once I have spoken to Sharla and explained all that has been going on here on the blogs (I didn't feel it was necessary to worry her before now).

CG

23 November, 2005 14:32  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Who ever is not with us is against us.. Geroge Bush said.. so is this website

23 November, 2005 20:33  
Anonymous ex-Dubaite said...

I watched Dubai Dreams on BBC a couple of nights ago and could not help thinking what a fantastic, unselfish lady Sharla is. I wish she had been there when I was in Dubai, I could have used some help! Having been in this kind of situation myself, I know exactly how difficult it is to live in, and more importantly to get help to get out of.

I was extremely lucky to have had great friends and was finally able to escape without further injury. Unfortunately I had no choice but to leave some beloved things behind.. my dog for one, which I will regret forever.

If CG would pass my very best wishes to Sharla, I would be very grateful. I pray that she may get her license very soon. Inshahallah.. she will.

23 November, 2005 22:32  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I was sad to see that some people are resentful of others who work tirelessly to help others.
I am speaking personally as I am working at the shelter. I document the personal stories of all the woman who come to stay with us, and at the end of the day I go home and sometimes feel at a lose , about what to do. But I do know that we have every intention in our hearts to do the best for the woman and children that stay with us.We will never stop at trying to assist those in crisis, as our aim is to make the world, Dubai a better place to live in. We have very good people in the community of Dubai, who also feel the same and give many hours of their time to help. Thank God for all the good human beings in this life, who have empathy and compassion for others in need.

24 November, 2005 12:34  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I watched the programme the other night and still find myself thinking about this truly wonderful woman. She is a living saint and an inspiration to us all.
She is an illuminating light which shines with the the very core of human kindness.
The world is a better place with Sharla in it.
x x
Jane
Yorkshire
England

26 November, 2005 17:12  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The American and the westren Manarisims do not stop in Eurpe or U.S it forces it self upon the Dubai Society as well. We as Muslims and Arabs Do not want the westren values to be imposed upon us, our countries were and still are the credale of the most holiest relgions of the Wolrd Judeaisums, Christianty,and Islam hence that Allmighty God didn't want or has never wished that any of these three holy beleifes had not come to this from Montana or NY shouldn't come agian through the Pentagon of MI 6. Brtish were smart enough to send their Agent Lourance of Arabia, First before their army, while the Americans would like always to think it is better done from the ground of the enemy, it doesn't matter how many lives of young Armericans it costs to concourd a country. It take big lies to cover up for the stale waters of Iraq, Afaghanistanm Gowntanamow Baym Abu Gharib Presion scandles, Lies like Weapons of Mass distructions, the war on Terror and other stuip lies like Dubai City of Hope project.. to complete the viciuos circle of lies.

29 December, 2005 17:39  
Anonymous Tina said...

I would like to be able to get in contact with Sharla. I am living in Dubai and am not working so have lots of free time to help out... Please someone give me her contact address...

12 January, 2006 03:09  
Anonymous Gulsen said...

I have watched the documentary focusing on Sharla. Unfortunately as a middle eastern woman who has settled in the west there is not much practical help I can offer her.However, here I am expressing my admiration for her. Her ability to handle such dark ugly matters with such ease and beauty has astounded me. She is a strong and beautiful human being... I wish her well. Please forward my thanks to her ... Kind regards...

17 February, 2006 06:52  
Blogger Duggy said...

Can somebody please send me the contact details of this house. Our maid is having terrible trouble with some very nasty sponsors.

15 April, 2006 22:06  
Blogger vrouwenrecht said...

Hello to everyone,
First off all I would like to mention that I’m really happy and relieved knowing that people like Sharla are actually doing something about this terrible act. I really think I was surfing the net and came across this blog. I’m actually doing this research on behalf of a real dear friend of mine, so I would really appreciate if anyone can help me with getting in touch with her.

23 July, 2006 00:11  
Blogger vrouwenrecht said...

First of all, kudos to sharle for doing what’s she’s doing. I’m desperately looking for Sharla’s contact number, it is an emergency case for a real dear friend of mine, and she is not able to do any kind of research her self. Any help is highly appreciated.

23 July, 2006 00:17  
Blogger vrouwenrecht said...

First of all, kudos to sharle for doing what’s she’s doing. I’m desperately looking for Sharla’s contact number, it is an emergency case for a real dear friend of mine, and she is not able to do any kind of research her self. Any help is highly appreciated.

23 July, 2006 00:17  
Blogger secretdubai said...

vrouw - I don't have those details myself, but I can put you in touch with someone that does. However you need to create a way for them to contact you. If you email me - secretdubai at gmail - I will do my best to help. For obvious reasons we can't post the contact information here.

23 July, 2006 00:28  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

SD, be careful pls with words, you are assuming that all the women in Sharla's place are Arabs, when I can say for sure that most of them are not because she's helping the resident community of Dubai of which Arabs are a small percentage compared to the Asian and European community. I am sure there are Arabs, but let's just not forget that as there are Arab wives who are being beaten by their husbands, the same is happening all over the world, so it is not an exclusive thing that can be found only here, it is every where, especially in America. As you are aware, Dr. Phil and Oprah keep showing us the dark side of their countries too ! I hope the secret diary of dubai doesn't get biased against Arabs just because it is supposed to be a "secret diary of Dubai". PEACE !

27 March, 2008 08:35  
Blogger secretdubai said...

I don't assume that at all - quite the opposite in fact.

If you look at the post I mention wives, children, maids (who almost certainly wouldn't be Arab, and definitely not local/Emirati), and the quote I use mentioned women from Eastern Europe.

Domestic violence is a problem througout the world.

What perhaps does differentiate certain Arab countries from certain Western ones is that it is harder for women to get help, because the police can "order" a woman back to her husband. Such a thing would be unthinkable in many western countries.

Although in times past women in western societies were also expected to keep quiet about abuse - revealing it was often considered shameful - this isn't the case now and hasn't been for many years. The Middle East is catching up, but it is still a few decades behind where the West has got to in terms of protecting the weak and oppressed.

27 March, 2008 09:35  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Rw5oLjC2-9w
All these years of hard work and cooperation with the UAE Government was actually spoiled via corruption by a few cronnies! how in the world does H.H issue a dacree to involve Sharla Musabih with the Gov. initiative for the protection of women and than she after they sent buses to collect all her belongings as well as the women, She finds herself being locked out and the women locked in & all of her belongings from her shelter locked up as well! it was a conspiracy to silent the voice of the victims so that the UAE could essentially report they have a "great system" without ever hearing from another victim outside the control of the Gov.

15 January, 2010 05:29  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

www.unitedhopeuae.org
unitedhopsharla@gmail.com

15 January, 2010 05:31  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

City of Hope has changed its name to United Hope UAE
United Action for Empowerment
This organization is now a registered 501c3 international non profit organization! The dignified work was qualified as a Middle East Partnership Initiative with the U.S state dept to raise awareness to human trafficking,
the defamation and smear campaign against this organization is basically smearing a selected U.S state dept organization! this is a disgrace to the UAE and a terrible embarassment! I am an active team member for this org.

15 January, 2010 05:38  

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